Are Sniffer Dogs Engaged in Communication?

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Are Sniffer Dogs Engaged in Communication?


There are always sniffer dogs at an airport in the search for illicit drugs. The Customs of a government rely on dogs for this duty. However, how do Customs Officers communicate with and understand dogs? Is communication involved?

Broadly, communication means the sharing of experience. It could be verbal or nonverbal. Here is an influential definition in detail - “Communication takes place when one mind so acts upon its environment that another mind is influenced and in that other mind an experience occurs which is like the experience of the first mind and is caused in part by that experience.” (I.A. Richards, Encyclopedia Britannica)

A system consists of inputs, processes and outputs. It is a set of things to run as a function unit. As Rodriques (1992) stated, a communication situation requires certain factors for its existence. The factors are Participants, Contact, Context, Common Code, Form of Message, and Goal of Communication. In the Richard’s definition above, the communication system is also described. One mind influencing another mind means there are two parties who contact in a common code with a physical and temporal setting (Context). In the same form of message, they achieve the communication.

The Communication Process During the Drug Detection

In the case of using sniffer dogs at an airport, the participants would be the sniffer dogs and the Customs Officers. There is contact when the dogs and officers are interacting. The Context would be the airport where the drug searching is taken place. If the dogs smell drugs, they will immediately bark to notice officers for further actions. In this situation, the form of message is very instant and brief. Whilst the dogs are able to express themselves and the officers understand the message, the goal of communication is achieved – the finding of drugs....
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